Dusi is a family affair

2014-02-14 00:00

TO compete in the Dusi Canoe Marathon takes a team effort, and sometimes the most important members of that team are those who are not in the water.

On a day like yesterday, where the summer KwaZulu-Natal heat started to peak early in the morning, the paddlers relied a lot on family and friends on the sides of the river to hand them water and keep them hydrated.

At the finish at Dusi Bridge was Maritzburg’s Beans Bateman who has been seconding for Graeme “Gudgie” Dixon for 20 years. Dixon was paddling in his 40th consecutive Dusi as reported by The Witness yesterday.

“We’ve been moving around from spot to spot trying to make sure he and [his daughter and paddling partner] Sarah are hydrated and that everything is okay,” he said. Bateman was himself a former Dusi paddler who competed for seven years starting in 1973.

“I was a fish-and-chips paddler and I participated just for fun and for the experience. It is something unique,” he said, adding that he’ll continue being involved with the Dusi, but only as a seconder. “I don’t think I’ll ever compete again.”

Another Maritzburger who was seconding at the finish on day one was Kurt Zwart who was looking after his son Tristan (30) and paddling partner Andrew Kemp. But, despite the unforgiving KZN heat, he said he enjoyed his day and was happy with his son’s performance.

He did, however say he would have liked it if there were more signs on the road to help those who weren’t from the Valley or its surrounding areas find their way around.

On whether he was planning to perhaps take part himself one day, Zwart said with a chuckle, “No, never. Things like this are not for me. I’m 61. I’m a pensioner.”

Tom Jones was also at Dusi Bridge yesterday morning. However, it wasn’t Tom Jones the famous Welsh singer, but Tom Jones from Durban, aged 37 and seconding for his older brother Sean and his paddling mate Kevin Atkinson.

“It’s his 10th consecutive Dusi,” Jones told The Witness, adding he’s been supporting his brother for the last seven.

He said he was still contemplating whether to get in a boat and participate himself in the future, having never taken on the challenge.

“I have to get myself in a boat first and start paddling,” he said.

The Joneses and Atkinson will camp out at Inanda Dam and drive back to Dusi Bridge today morning.

Team Ian and Frankenstein — comprising of Ian Jourdan and Grant Oliver — was being seconded by Chris Jourdan.

“They call themselves that because both of them are so tall,” Chris Jourdan said of his son Ian and his friend.

The day’s event left Jourdan the elder feeling patriotic as he praised the organisers of the Dusi.

“It’s a well-run event. The map is well put together and their traffic control has been superb. The way the event has been organised makes you proud to be South African,” he said.

“It has been a bit hot though. I feel sorry for the back markers because they’re going to be paddling in the afternoon heat,” Jourdan added.

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